Architectural Photography Pricing

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by owen_dawson, Oct 23, 2017.

  1. Very new to doing this sort of photography, although I've been fortunate in doing some work for some fairly large business in the area.
    I've been doing a fair amount of homework on this topic and wanted to get your thoughts.

    A couple of things...

    1. How are you charging for your photography? hourly / daily/ 1/2 day.
    2. Are you charging a creative fee/production fees/ usage fees?
    3. Do those creative fees stay fixed?
    4. How do you figure out what you usage fee will be?
    5. Do you also add in a per image fee?

    Lots of questions, but lets start with those. If you can answer just one, it would help.

    Here is my current situation.

    Just shot 24 images of interior and exterior of a major production company in DC. Images will be used for marketing from the leasing company. The production company will most certainly want a few if not all of those images too.

    Time spent:

    3 hr drive
    1hr walkaround
    3hr shoot
    4hr post

    The bill i'm sending them is going to be $1375 which at this point doesn't include any usage fees for third party.
    I'm billing at $125hr
    I don't really like this way of billing because a closer job location and fewer shots would be a lot less money in my pocket.
  2. knowing your cost of doing business is the first step. Hourly rates are my least favorite but they do need to be considered in your final estimate. I personally choose to bill per room. More rooms more money and its fair for both sides. I do incorporate a minimum charge. Day rates and half day rates were used in the past and some still use it today. I prefer to give an estimate on each job in case there is extra work involved.
  3. Thanks Michael. It sounds like you may be doing more RE shoots? I'm shooting space in large buildings generally. It seeem like every archictect photographer i've spoken (at least on the east coast) charges either an hrly or 1/2 day / full day rate.

    I have a big job starting next spring for 150 projects by an large brick company. All shots are exteriors showing off their bricks obviously. the locations range from baltimore (where i live) to southern VA. These are 1 to 3 shots of exteriors and on to next location. Some locations are 3hr away so I will be staying a night and shooting there for two days and returning. I'll have to make this trip multiple times as there are at least 30+ projects in an around the richmond area that need photographying.
    any thoughts on how you would tackle something like this, as far a travel expenses, and fees per building? This isn't your everyday photo request.
    What is your website?
  4. I do interior photography for contractors and industrial architecture/interior for corporate real-estate. My site it Preferred Corporate Photographer in NYC | Event Photography | Corporate Headshots and team shots

    First take on a job you know you can handle. Maybe just do the properties that are near by. A large project can turn into a very long project. There will always be something that will go wrong or unexpected delays from traffic to weather. Figure out a per building rate for 30 plus properties which includes up to 3 shots (example $400 per building at least, higher is always better) then figure out a travel rate which can be a 1/2 day rate plus expenses (motel and food).
  5. $400 per building at 150 buildings?! That's $60.000. Unless one is a big name architecture photographer that's never going to happen. $400 sounds more like half a day, so $800 a day + expenses. If it's only 1- 3 exterior shots per building you could easily do 15-20 or so in one day for buildings in the same area. That's 10-13 days. Around $8000 + driving expenses would be more reasonable.

    And a lot less time for you too. That's what you're charging them for after all, your time.

    4 hours post-processing for 24 images? Shouldn't take much longer than 30-40 minutes.
  6. Phil never say never. You can't be scared by big numbers. The images that we provide has value to the seller which is a fraction of what he is selling to the buyer. You make the shoot and post production work sound so easy and quick, something a person with no experience would advise. I say that not to attack you or start a debate, I just find it humorous. We all have a right to state our opinions and let the OP make his own decisions. I will add I miss read the 150 jobs and confused them with the 30 Richmond jobs. I would stick with the $400 for the Richmond jobs and then drop the local jobs to $300. Again this is where the art of negotiations come into play. If the OP is happy then I am happy.
  7. Unless we're talking about high end magazine style architecture shoots, shooting as well as processing interior and exteriors can be done fast and effective. I've shot thousands of homes and buildings over the years, all kinds of homes, mostly 360 pano virtual tours (which also include interior and exterior stills) for real estate. I also shoot just stills now, which typically takes 30 minutes per home (if the owners cleaned up) + another 30 minutes post-production for an average of 20-25 images per home. I don't work with lights, I bracket and batch process images into Photomatix for realistic HDR. After importing into Lightroom the HDR processed images have been further auto developed using presets for exposure, white balance and straightening/lens correction. After that I only have to crop (I shoot interiors mostly at 10mm and then crop to 4:3's to get rid of most of the distortions, this gives a realistically scaled looking interior shot and it also allows for very fast and precise framing and composing during post rather than messing around for that perfect edge to edge composition while on location. The most time is spent on the swapping of grey skies for blue skies in exterior shots on overcast days (though that's also fairly quickly done in ON1 Layers).

    The point is that in order to be competitive (which includes fast turnaround times especially in real estate) you have to work as effective and streamlined as possible. Taking 4 hours to post-process 24 images is not effective and streamlined and therefore not competitive, regardless if you can actually charge for those 4 hours or not.

    Outsourcing the post-processing is also an option. I've been looking at Photoup (there are several other companies online geared towards post-production for real estate and architecture photographers) to possibly outsource my processing if it gets to a point where I can't deliver on time anymore or when there's too much time spent post-processing taking time away from shooting assignments.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
    michaelmowery likes this.
  8. I would say that post processing comes in many varieties. The art of handblending images (no hdr) can take some time and IMO ultimately gives you a better quality of work.
    michaelmowery likes this.
  9. I’m not shooting real estate here. i’m working for companies that have big bank accounts. Not a RE agent. I’ve done that work and was lucky to make $50hr. Two different worlds here. The job that took me 11 hrs was worth $1400. It’s not uncommon in my world for the post to take as much time as the shoot. If your clients like the hdr look thats great, but there is clearly a difference when using luminosity masks and hand blending. Try not to judge or insult people when you don’t know the particular genre of photography. Shooting for an architect Or large commercial company and shooting for RE agent are very different. Pricing is all based on usage of image in my world
  10. You said you were "very new to doing this sort of photography". Now you're suddenly the expert. Whatever.
    owen_dawson likes this.
  11. There's no such thing as the "HDR look". HDR is simply a technique and you can make it look anyway you want, from cartoonish to neutral and basically invisible. Anyway, happy hand blending!
    owen_dawson likes this.
  12. My architecture firm routinely hires professional photographers to document projects for marketing purposes. The rates are mostly based on a half-day or full-day rate, travel and expenses, and a charge per-image for processing of final, purchased images. Our photographers typically take many more images than we buy, but we pay a fair amount for the images we do buy. I am not at liberty to share rates, but that is likely a very regional, market-driven issue anyway.

    As to HDR: That was a fad for a while, but it seems to have faded. The images we have in our archive that feature obvious HDR processing are now rarely used, since they feel dated and out of touch with how we want our designs to be perceived. Good luck and best wishes...
  13. David
    Very helpful. I’m guessing the photographer sends you the lot of unprocessed images, you choose which ones you want and pay per image like you stated. I think that makes sense as some images can take longer to put together and in the end, might not be used.
    Hand blending is definitely a more refined way to blend images.
    Thanks for your time.
  14. You must think of HDR as being only oversaturated candy colored landscape or cityscapes. Like I said, HDR is simply a technique. The way I use it for interior and exterior shots is that you don't even know it's being used. It happens to be a very efficient and fast way to create clear and neutrally looking images that have all the details in shadows and highlights. I don't really care about its "reputation". I care about the results it can give me without unnecessarily spending significantly more time using other techniques that won't give me significantly better results.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2017
    michaelmowery likes this.
  15. beauty is in the eye of the beholder. if your clients like what you do, and obviously they do, then enough said. some like the hdr processed look and some like the look of luminosity blends.
  16. I don't use HDR to create a look. I use it to give me a base image that has all the necessary details in it after which I can then create whatever look if necessary (processing is mostly limited to clarity, contrast, exposure, white balance).

    But the defining factor of good architecture photography isn't about what was used to post-process the image anyway, it's about the composition and interplay of light (natural or artificial) on the building and its materials. It's about the eye of the photographer and the photographer's ability to also neutralize that eye in favor for the architect's vision (if we're talking about non-generic architecture and architecture as an art) to come through in the image of the building.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2017
  17. I think there was an early trend among architectural photographers who had shifted to digital to over-play their hand in PP. (Hey, look what I can do!) Overwrought HDR was one of the symptoms. HDR as a processing tool certainly has its place, but too much of even a good thing can be, simply, too much. An overdone HDR image is readily discernible as such, while a sensitively processed and presented image, by whatever technique, can be very beguiling. I think this is what Phil is getting at. It's not so much the technique one uses, but the result that technique renders that matters. It's kind of like makeup: The best applications are very effective, but invisible unless one looks specifically for them.
    Moving On likes this.
  18. There's a reason why much of the very best architecture photography is in black and white. Unless color is an intrinsic part of the design its seldom the colors that give a building its expressiveness (and especially not when those colors are rendered in an oversaturated HDR) in terms of shadow, light, form, rhythm,...

    I know that most architecture photography today is in color because of the emphasis being put on information. But a good black and white photograph can elucidate a building yet without making it plainly visible.
  19. $400 dollars does not seem like a lot for a commercial building to me. I think you should charge for the value you deliver. You also need to cover overhead and marketing expenses. In fact.. I would say that a low fee of $400 would basically be some descriptive and documentary photos and nothing that requires too much creative effort.
    michaelmowery likes this.
  20. It's not a lot if it would be only 1 or several buildings. Then you could charge a minimum of $800 or $1000 per building. But it's for 150 buildings.That's $120.000 - $150.000 for what sounds like standard type exterior shots of commercial buildings. Like I said maybe if you are a big name architecture photographer and they want you and only you for your style and name but as a photographer who's very new at this type of photography (like the OP mentioned) that's wishful thinking.

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